O, I am fortune’s fool!
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Summary: Act 3, scene 1
As they walk in the street under the boiling sun, Benvolio suggests to Mercutio that they go indoors, fearing that a brawl will be unavoidable should they encounter Capulet men. Mercutio replies that Benvolio has as quick a temper as any man in Italy, and should not criticize others for their short fuses. Tybalt enters with a group of cronies. He approaches Benvolio and Mercutio and asks to speak with one of them. Annoyed, Mercutio begins to taunt and provoke him. Romeo enters. Tybalt turns his attention from Mercutio to Romeo, and calls Romeo a villain. Romeo, now secretly married to Juliet and thus Tybalt’s kinsman, refuses to be angered by Tybalt’s verbal attack. Tybalt commands Romeo to draw his sword. Romeo protests that he has good reason to love Tybalt, and does not wish to fight him. He asks that until Tybalt knows the reason for this love, he put aside his sword. Mercutio angrily draws his sword and declares with biting wit that if Romeo will not fight Tybalt, he will. Mercutio and Tybalt begin to fight. Romeo, attempting to restore peace, throws himself between the combatants. Tybalt stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, and as Mercutio falls, Tybalt and his men hurry away. Mercutio dies, cursing both the Montagues and the Capulets: “A plague o’ both your houses” (3.1.87), and still pouring forth his wild witticisms: “Ask for me tomorrow, and / you shall find me a grave man” (3.1.93–94). Enraged, Romeo declares that his love for Juliet has made him effeminate, and that he should have fought Tybalt in Mercutio’s place. When Tybalt, still angry, storms back onto the scene, Romeo draws his sword. They fight, and Romeo kills Tybalt. Benvolio urges Romeo to run; a group of citizens outraged at the recurring street fights is approaching. Romeo, shocked at what has happened, cries “O, I am fortune’s fool!” and flees (3.1.131).
The Prince enters, accompanied by many citizens, and the Montagues and Capulets. Benvolio tells the Prince the story of the brawl, emphasizing Romeo’s attempt to keep the peace, but Lady Capulet, Tybalt’s aunt, cries that Benvolio is lying to protect the Montagues. She demands Romeo’s life. Prince Escalus chooses instead to exile Romeo from Verona. He declares that should Romeo be found within the city, he will be killed.Read a translation of Act 3, scene 1 →
The sudden, fatal violence in the first scene of Act 3, as well as the buildup to the fighting, serves as a reminder that, for all its emphasis on love, beauty, and romance, Romeo and Juliet still takes place in a masculine world in which notions of honor, pride, and status are prone to erupt in a fury of conflict. The viciousness and dangers of the play’s social environment are dramatic tools that Shakespeare employs to make the lovers’ romance seem even more precious and fragile—their relationship is the audience’s only respite from the brutal world pressing against their love. The fights between Mercutio and Tybalt and then between Romeo and Tybalt are chaotic; Tybalt kills Mercutio under Romeo’s arm, flees, and then suddenly, and inexplicably, returns to fight Romeo, who kills him in revenge. Passion outweighs reason at every turn.
Romeo’s cry, “O, I am fortune’s fool!” refers specifically to his unluckiness in being forced to kill his new wife’s cousin, thereby getting himself banished (3.1.131). It also recalls the sense of fate that hangs over the play. Mercutio’s response to his fate, however, is notable in the ways it diverges from Romeo’s response. Romeo blames fate, or fortune, for what has happened to him. Mercutio curses the Montagues and Capulets. He seems to see people as the cause of his death, and gives no credit to any larger force.
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Elizabethan society generally believed that a man too much in love lost his manliness. Romeo clearly subscribes to that belief, as can be seen when he states that his love for Juliet had made him “effeminate.” Once again, however, this statement can be seen as a battle between the private world of love and the public world of honor, duty, and friendship. The Romeo who duels with Tybalt is the Romeo who Mercutio would call the “true” Romeo. The Romeo who sought to avoid confrontation out of concern for his wife is the person Juliet would recognize as her loving Romeo. The word effeminate is applied by the public world of honor upon those things it does not respect. In using the term to describe his present state, Romeo accepts the responsibilities thrust upon him by the social institutions of honor and family duty.
The arrival of the Prince and the angry citizens shifts the focus of the play to a different sort of public sphere. Romeo’s killing of Tybalt is marked by rashness and vengeance, characteristics prized by noblemen, but which threaten the public order that citizens desire and the Prince has a responsibility to uphold. As one who has displayed such traits, Romeo is banished from Verona. Earlier, the Prince acted to repress the hatred of the Montagues and the Capulets in order to preserve public peace; now, still acting to avert outbreaks of violence, the Prince unwittingly acts to thwart the love of Romeo and Juliet. Consequently, with their love censured not only by the Montagues and Capulets but by the ruler of Verona, Romeo and Juliet’s relationship puts Romeo in danger of violent reprisal from both Juliet’s kinsmen and the state.
Analysis of “Romeo and Juliet”, Act 3 Scene 1, ‘The Turning Point’.Get Your
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The story of “Romeo and Juliet” is a tragedy. This is well known among most people, but why is this play a tragedy? When did it all start? Where is the turning point in this play? I think that the turning point is Act 3 Scene 1. This is the point where the tragedy starts. This scene focuses much on Romeo. When Romeo kills Tybalt in this scene, the Capulets don’t just hate the Montagues, they hate them a lot. This essay will describe what happened in Act 3 Scene 1, why the scene is the turning point and why the tragedy happened. Romeo and Juliet are married straight before Act 3 Scene 1.
The marriage is a happy and romantic scene. Act 3 Scene 1 begins with Benvolio advising Mercutio to retire for the day: “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let’s retire: The day is hot, the Capels are abroad… ” The quote contains a double meaning. “The day is hot” can mean the weather and their tempers. A hot temper would be disastrous when they meet the Capulets. The weather also had some connection with their tempers. People tend to become agitated when the weather gets hot and stuffy. When people are agitated, they tend to snap and rage a bit more often than usual.
Benvolio clearly expressed this point later on in the play: “… for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring” Unfortunately, Mercutio didn’t agree with Benvolio. Instead, he made fun of Benvolio for being eager to quarrel over just about anything in this weather: “… thou wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes… ” Of course, Mercutio was just using hyperbole. An example of a modern day hyperbole would be the quote “I could sleep for a year”. Mercutio also punned with his words. Notice how the words “hazel” and nuts” link? Although they are pretty lame puns in the modern age, it shows how witty and jolly Mercutio was. The atmosphere gets tenser when the Capulets arrive at the scene. Although Benvolio was worried about them, Mercutio didn’t care and maintained his witty and jolly attitude: “By my heel, I care not” Mercutio made a big mistake here. By underestimating the situation, he had let off a chain of events which would ultimately lead to many deaths. Tybalt of the Capulets asked about Romeo and Mercutio punned Tybalt’s words: “Consort? What, dost thou make us minstrels? And thou ake minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords… ” “Consort” is the word that describes a companion or a friend. It is also a word that describes an ensemble of musicians. “Minstrels” is the Shakespearean word for a musician. “Discords” in music are a group of notes that sound really bad. So if we put these words together, Mercutio probably meant, “Consort? Do you think we’re musicians? You shall hear nothing but insults from us! ” You can see that the opening of the scene is pretty tense. Mercutio was on the verge of starting a fight with Tybalt. The situation is worsened by their position, a public place.
This scene of tension, publicity and witty humor is purposely placed after a scene of love, privacy and happiness. Shakespeare has used Juxtaposition here. It shows us how quickly things change. Romeo arrived at the scene straight after his wedding. Tybalt, at the sight of Romeo, insulted him: “Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford No better term than this: thou art a villain” Back from his wedding, Romeo had no intent to hurt Tybalt in any way. So in an attempt to keep the peace, Romeo responded peacefully and explained that he doesn’t mean any harm” “I do protest I never injuried thee,
But love thee better than thou canst devise… ” No one besides Romeo knew about Romeo and Juliet’s relationship. In the Zeffirelli version of “Romeo and Juliet”, everyone else on stage assumed Romeo’s peacekeeping attitude was all a joke. On the other hand, Baz Luhrmann’s modern version of Romeo and Juliet portrays a less humorous and more serious scene. Romeo is being beaten by Tybalt as Romeo says the quote above. In both movies, Tybalt takes this attitude as an insult. “Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries That thou hast done me, therefore turn and draw” In my opinion, I prefer the Baz Luhrmann version of the scene.
People greatly valued honor during Romeo and Juliet’s time. A peaceful attitude was probably not something to laugh at. Tybalt did not know that Romeo was already married to Juliet. Tybalt thought Romeo was mocking him, so Tybalt demanded a duel. The other characters are clearly surprised by Romeo’s reaction. As the audience, we are not at all surprised at Romeo’s reaction. Shakespeare used dramatic irony in this part of the play. Many people have different opinions of what effect this gives. The Zeffirelli version makes me laugh at the lameness of the situation (everyone’s laughing their heads off).
That is why I, again, prefer the Baz Luhrmann version of the scene because the dramatic irony gave me a huge sense of pity for both Romeo and Tybalt. This effect may be caused by the emotional expressions of the actors, but I pity Romeo and Tybalt when I watch the scene. When Romeo refused the challenge, Mercutio stepped up to take Romeo’s place. During the fight, Romeo got in the way. Tybalt accidentally kills Mercutio and fled (he meant to kill Romeo). Mercutio cursed both families and died in Benvolio’s arms. Shakespeare had decided to let Mercutio die at this point for various reasons.
Shakespeare needed to set the spark that would unleash the tragedy in his play. What better spark than accidental murder? Shakespeare chose Mercutio because Mercutio is Romeo’s close friend. I don’t know about Shakespeare, but if I were him, I would just kill off Mercutio because I realized halfway through writing the play that Mercutio was too hard a character to write a script for (with all that punning). One very important reason for adding Mercutio’s death is because it created a complication for the story. Every story needs a setting, complication, climax and resolution.
Although it is easy to believe that the feud was the complication, the feud is actually part of the setting. Romeo falling in love is part of the complication and Mercutio’s death creates another complication. After Mercutio’s death, Romeo blamed himself in a soliloquy for Mercutio’s death: “… Tybalt, that an hour Hath been my cousin. O sweet Juliet, Thy beauty hath made me effeminate… ” The Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet showed Romeo and company being unaware that Mercutio was dying, although Romeo and Benvolio were more concerned than everyone else.
In the Baz Luhrmann version, Mercutio died in Romeo’s arms. Romeo’s expression showed great despair and pity for Mercutio. He is completely overwhelmed by the feelings taking hold of him. Romeo became extremely violent to Tybalt in a manner of seconds. In both plays, it is vengeance which made Romeo angry enough to approach Tybalt with a death duel challenge: “Either thou or I, or both, must go with him” Romeo didn’t see Tybalt as a cousin-in-law anymore. All he saw was a man who killed Mercutio. All he felt was pain, anguish and retribution. Such an emotional fight should be staged with emotion and desperation.
I do not like the fight in both the Zeffirelli and Baz Luhrmann. The Zeffirelli version of the fight showed some desperation but not a lot. The action in the fight was ok. The Baz Luhrmann version showed lots of desperation, but it was pretty weird to watch Tybalt drop his gun just because Romeo shouted at him. All Romeo did to kill Tybalt was pick up the gun and shoot. I fancy a mixture of both of them; lots of action, lots of desperation, and not too long. Since Tybalt is known to be a well respected swordsman, Romeo must kill Tybalt by either sheer emotional pressure or a lame mistake by Tybalt (like dropping the sword).
After Romeo killed Tybalt, his reaction was not described very well. The script only tells us that Romeo said, “O, I am fortune’s fool” and left the stage. I didn’t get to see the Zeffirelli version of his reaction. So I can only base my ideas on the Baz Luhrmann version. Romeo was surprised and horrified at what he did. He cries out, “I am fortune’s fool” and leaves. This shows that Romeo only slew Tybalt because a fiery fury took hold of him. He did not kill Tybalt out of cold blood. If we now look at the consequences of this scene, there is no doubt that this is the most important scene in Romeo and Juliet.
Two characters die in this scene; one death provoked the death of the other. Tybalt’s death made it harder for the Capulets to forgive the Montagues. Romeo was banished from Verona for killing Tybalt, so he could never be with Juliet again. Juliet grieved for Tybalt and was angry at Romeo but nevertheless, saddened that Romeo had to go. The death of Tybalt urged Lord Capulet to hasten the arrangement for Juliet’s wedding with Paris. These consequences will later lead to the deaths of Romeo, Juliet, Paris and Lady Montague. But whose fault was it?
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Well, if Romeo did not eavesdrop at the Capulet Ball, Tybalt will have no reason to hate him so much. But if Tybalt did not challenge Romeo for eavesdropping, Mercutio would not have interfered and died, Romeo would not have avenged Mercutio, Tybalt would not have died, the Capulets would not hate the Montagues as much, Romeo and Juliet would not have been split up, Paris would not have arranged to marry Juliet on Wednesday, the Friar’s Plan would not have gone out, the fatal flaw would not have happened and Rome and Juliet and Paris would still be alive, and Lady Montague would ot have died over grief for Romeo’s banishment. If there was no Act 3 Scene 1, Romeo and Juliet would have been a love story instead of a tragedy. Without Act 3 Scene 1, Romeo and Juliet themselves would have lived happily ever after with their families.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Analysis of “Romeo and Juliet”, Act 3 Scene 1, ‘The Turning Point’.
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